Hellman Theatre

1365 Washington Avenue,
Albany, NY 12206

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: United Artists Theater Circuit Inc.

Architects: Leon E. Einhorn, Sidney Schenker

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News About This Theater

Hellman Theatre

Opened on April 27, 1960 on Washington Avenue, across the street from SUNY Albany. Originally designed with a large, very lavish lobby and lounge, and gold draperies throughout the auditorium. The two center sections had gold seats, while the two aisles flanking the walls had blue seats.

United Artists took over in the 1970’s, and twinned it on June 10, 1983 with Roger Moore in “Octopussy” screening on both screens. It was the last of the Hellman Theatres in the Albany area to close–around 1989. It sat empty for a few years. A politician used the lobby for his campaign headquarters for a few months. The theatre was eventually demolished.

Contributed by Joe Masher

Recent comments (view all 19 comments)

nritota on October 25, 2013 at 7:53 am

According the the Remembering Cinerama series posted on this site (http://cinematreasures.org/blog/2009/3/27/remembering-cinerama-part-24-albuquerque), Albuquerque was the last three projector installation in 1964.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 21, 2014 at 3:45 pm

The earliest reports about the Hellman Theatre indicate that the project was downsized before it was completed. The theater was originally planned with a balcony and was to be equipped with Todd-AO, according to this item from the November 6, 1958, issue of Motion Picture Daily:

“Plans Suburban Theatre for Albany, Phila.

“Albany will be one of two cities where Neil Hellman will build suburban theatres next year. Philadelphia is the other.

“He announced here that a 1,200-seat house, equipped with Todd-AO and escalators to the balcony, will be constructed in the spring on a five-acre site adjoining his Thruway Motel and opposite the State Campus. The State of New York has erected several large buildings there, and plans others.

“The location is within the city limits and only 10 minutes from Schenectady, by the State Thruway. Present plans are for the presentation of road show pictures, first-runs and art films. Leon Einhorn, theatre and motel architect, will design the house. Parking facilities will be provided for 500 cars.

“Cost is expected to be around $500,000; the house to be in readiness for operation by Labor Day.

“Hellman will also put up a 1,400-seat suburban theatre on a 6 ½-acre site in Philadelphia, where he now operates the Lincoln and Andalusia drive-ins. Cost of that project is estimated at $750,000. This includes parking for 500 cars.

“Ed Potash, who retired from Universal’s Philadelphia exchange last spring to become Hellman’s general manager, will supervise the two new suburbans.”

A later issue of the magazine said that the completion date of the project had been moved up:
“Move Up Date for ‘Suburban’ Theatre

“Special to THE DAILY

“ALBANY, N. Y., Nov. 13. – Neil Hellman has announced the moving up of the date for the completion of a proposed 1,200-seat $500,000 ‘suburban’ theatre on Upper Washington Avenue, within the city limits, from Labor Day to July 15.

“He said that construction work will begin within three weeks. Originally it was not to start until spring. Hellman stated that the job will be put up for bids in the near future.

“Parking facilities for 500 cars are one of the features. The house, which will also have a stage and dressing rooms, is to seat 1,000 on the main floor, and 200 in the balcony. The latter will be reached by escalators.”

As built, the Hellman Theatre had 140 fewer seats than originally announced, the balcony was not built, and Cinerama replaced the planned Todd-AO installation. Apparently it had neither stage nor dressing rooms, eihter. That the house actually opened in April, 1960, rather than July, 1959, and that a second architect (Schenker) was brought on to the project, must have been the result of these changes.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 25, 2016 at 5:44 am

I saw the compilation film by Harold Lloyd, “Harold Lloyd’s World of Comedy,” at this theatre on August 25, 1962.

jkcooney on September 6, 2016 at 2:32 pm

My recollection of the Hellman was as an employee from 62-63. The roadshow presentation of West Side Story was a highlight of that time. The 50th Anniversary of this film cited on the Cinema Treasures blog states that it ran for 10 weeks… my recollection is 16 weeks since I changed the signs on the Marquee each week. Cinerama in its final reincarnation also was featured at the Hellman who had previously shown the 3 projector Windjammer earlier in the 60s. Hard Tickets and reserved seating… tough nights keeping people in their own seats…… jc

Coate on September 6, 2016 at 9:40 pm

^jkcooney…. Per a (re)check of the Albany area newspapers for the timeframe in question, the Hellman’s roadshow run of “West Side Story” was April 4th – June 12th (1962), which equates to 70 days (or 10 weeks), just as I cited in my 50th anniversary article.

CarlP on January 14, 2018 at 12:56 am

This is a fantastic website. Thanks for having info on this theater. If my memory doesn’t fail me, I believe that in the winter of 1988 the Hellman was playing Moonstruck and Good Morning Vietnam. I was a freshman back then at SUNYA and I went to see both films the same week. Such great memories. 30 years ago this month!


Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 30, 2018 at 3:53 am

I’ve been burned by Boxoffice moving its archive so many times and having my links go dead that I’m reluctant to do this, but the double page spread about the Hellman Theatre in the magazine’s July 4, 1960 issue has a couple of nice photos I haven’t seen elsewhere, so I’ll take a chance: at Yumpu.com.

ddaydan on March 29, 2020 at 3:18 pm

I saw 2001 there in 1968. It was the most impressive modern theater. It is a far cry from the cinder block with curtains theaters that are built today.

rivest266 on November 5, 2020 at 1:58 pm

Opened on April 27th, 1960. Grand opening ad posted.

rivest266 on May 11, 2024 at 1:13 pm

Two screens on June 10th, 1983. Grand opening ad posted.

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